Camping in a hammock has become extremely popular in recent years. I wanted to write this post to talk about what you need to look for in a hammock, and whether or not you need to pay the money to go all out with a top brand. In the image above you will see my friend Joe’s hammock set up on the right, he has the ENO double hammock hung with atlas straps and the ENO hammock tarp. On the left is my Grand Trunk Ultralight hammock hung with old climbing rope and covered by a cheep tarp that I picked up at Wal-Mart. I can honestly say that I have had some of my best camping nights and worst camping nights in a hammock . On the night that this photo was taken, it rained heavily and I would say we both stayed warm and dry with our different set ups.
Many people don’t think about taking a sleeping pad with them when they are using a hammock. This is a huge mistake. The pad is not there for padding in this case, but rather is used for it’s insulation value and to offer some rigidity to the bottom of the hammock so you don’t wake up feeling like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Single Hammock vs. Double Hammock
I personally prefer a single hammock. I like to be able to look around with very little effort, and it’s easier to lift my head out of the taco I have become in a single hammock. I do know many people, however, that like the extra room to move around in that is offered by a double hammock. Another thing to keep in mind is that a double hammock is rated to hold more weight. This can be an issue for some bigger guys because the single ultra light hammock surprisingly only holds 200 lbs. If you are at or even near that, I wouldn’t risk it and would suggest just going with the double.
Tarp vs. Official rain cover
I personally don’t mind the tarp at all. It doesn’t cost much and with a little para cord you can practically do anything with it. There are down sides though. It does create quite a bit more noise than the rain cover, and it doesn’t pack very small. This can be an issue if you plan to backpack with your set up. Another thing to consider is how you will attach it to the ground. A rain cover comes with stakes, but if you using a tarp then you will need to buy some of these as well.
Old climbing rope vs. Atlas straps by ENO
This is something that is worth spending the money on. The atlas straps are amazing. All you have to do is wrap them around a tree, and then you can easily adjust the tightness of your hammock. You don’t have to worry about knowing any special knots. This is something you should just spend the $30 on.
ENO also makes a bug net, which I do own. The perk to ENO’s bug net over the Grand Trunk version is that the Grand Trunk net is sewn into the hammock, so it is all one piece, while the ENO net is sold separately. It offers more bug protection for your back side if you are just lounging for the day and have no pad or sleeping bag under you.
All in all, hammock camping does have its perks like less hassle and never having to worry about how flat the ground is. If you feel like giving it a shot, go grab yourself an ultralight hammock from Grand Trunk. It will only set you back $20 and it’s something you can use to relax in, even if you don’t like camping in it.